Bouterse involved in drug crime after conviction

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The President of Suriname Desi Bouterse allegedly continued to be involved in international drug crime after being convicted of drug smuggling by the Netherlands in 1999. The revelations were made by Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad based on cables by US diplomats in Surinam and neighbouring Guyana released by WikiLeaks.

The cables indicate the Surinamese president was involved in drug smuggling until 2006, when he was still an MP. He allegedly had links to Shaheed 'Roger' Khan, Guyana’s biggest drugs baron, who is currently serving a 30-year prison sentence in the United States.

A spokesperson for President Bouterse told RNW correspondent Harmen Boerboom that he did not think the revelations would pose a problem for the president. “He is democratically elected by the Surinamese people.”

Voters already knew that Bouterse had been convicted of drug smuggling in the Netherlands and that he is suspected of giving the order for the December murders, in which 15 members of the opposition were killed in 1982 during an earlier term as president.

The 'cables' report a number of locations where Bouterse and Khan are believed to have met. Desi Bouterse also visited Guyana a number of times in spite of an international warrant for his arrest.

The two men are believed to be involved in various murders and plots to murder former Surinamese Minister of Justice Chandrikapersad Santokhi and procurer general Subhas Punwasi, who were responsible for a clampdown in drug crime.

The cables do not reveal whether the President Bouterse was involved in drug crime after 2006. Surinam is a former Dutch colony.

© Radio Netherlands Worldwide

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